Education • Council says Utah and rest of country needs to improve teacher training.
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Utah and most other states have a long way to go when it comes to better preparing teachers for the classroom, according to a report released Wednesday.
The National Council on Teacher Quality gave Utah a grade of D on its teacher preparation policies, only slightly worse than the national average of D-plus.
The report called on states to raise admission standards for teacher preparation programs; align teacher preparation with new Common Core academic standards; improve clinical preparation; raise licensing standards; and hold teacher preparation programs accountable.
The report dinged Utah when it came to admission into teacher preparation programs; ensuring elementary teachers are ready to teach to the new standards; middle school teacher preparation; special education teacher preparation; student teaching; and teacher preparation program accountability.
Utah's grade of D was the same mark it received last year.
Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president of the Utah Education Association, said she agrees that the country has much work to do to better prepare teachers.
She said she'd like to see those studying to become teachers spend more time in classrooms before they become educators. For example, she said in Finland, which is a global leader in education, teacher candidates spend a full year in residency working with master teachers in classrooms.
She said Finland teacher colleges also draw top students into their programs. In the United States, the reports' authors note "it seems reasonable and appropriate that states should limit access to teacher preparation programs to those who are in the top half of the college-going population in terms of academic achievement."
"I think there is a recognition across the country that we need to look at teacher preparation programs and say, 'What are we doing? Are we attracting the best and brightest candidates?'" Gallagher-Fishbaugh said.
The council is a Washington, D.C.-based, nonprofit that advocates for reforms to teacher policies to increase the number of effective teachers. The main funding for the report released Wednesday were the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Joyce Foundation and The Walton Family Foundation.